Communities like Barriere are built on the backs of men like Dick Ross.
That’s how friends remember the tireless volunteer who was instrumental to the success of the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo and spearheaded the town’s first baseball park.
“He was huge. We would probably have never had the rodeo we have, or the fall fair, if it wasn’t for Dick Ross,” said Jill Hayward, president of the fall fair and rodeo association.
Ross died early last week from post-heart surgery complication. He was 82.
Hayward met Ross when she joined the association’s light horse division 20 years ago. Ross, a cowboy through and through, was a horseman, so the two got to know each other, she said.
Her husband, Bob, is also a cowboy. It didn’t take long for Ross to become a good family friend.
“The cowboy way was Dick’s way. He always had a cowboy hat on. I don’t think I ever saw him without a cowboy hat on,” said Hayward.
When it came to the fall fair and rodeo grounds, Ross loved the people who worked there and was always present, said Hayward.
“He worked every day on everything. He was my right-hand man. If I went to the fair grounds, he was there,” said Hayward. “If I needed the roof propped up so we could put a rafter in, Dick was there.”
She remembers Ross spending an entire day seated on a tractor so he could tend to the ground during barrel races. The horses chew up the dirt, so Ross rode out on his tractor after every five horses and smoothed it out.
His dedication didn’t end there. Ross also took part in events and roped horses with his grandson as recently as last summer.
“That was amazing,” said Hayward.
A former military man and railroader, Ross was also a member of Royal Canadian Legion, the first president of the B.C. Little Britches Rodeo Association, a charter member of the Barriere Lions Club and an ambulance driver, among many other things.
“He loved his community fiercely,” said Hayward.
He also loved baseball. Longtime Barriere resident and politician Bill Kershaw said Ross was one of the instigators behind the community’s first baseball park and the Barriere Maroons softball team, which formed in 1960.
“He was really involved in ball when his kids were young,” said Kershaw. “He was really a community minded person.”
He doesn’t believe Ross did what he did for any reason other than Barriere was his home and he wanted the best for it. Kershaw said Ross is a lesson to those who want small towns to thrive and survive.
“Towns like Barriere were built on guys like Dick Ross,” said Kershaw.
A funeral service and celebration of Ross’ life will be held in the North Thompson Fall Fair rodeo arena in Barriere on Saturday, March 2 at 1 p.m.